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Glimpses of Greatness

"In view of his niece's marriage......."

There was a lot of activity in the small Govt. Colony of twenty houses in a posh sector of Chandigarh - ten houses on each side of the small road, from the previous day. All the houses were occupied by quite highly placed officers of the rank of Deputy Secretaries, D.S.Ps., etc. It was a well-knit colony and all the families acted and behaved as part of a big joint family. In the evening the road served as a Mall, a club, a park. Old and young strolled from one end of the road to the other and back in their little groups. Politics was discussed, gossip was exchanged, jokes were cut and there was an atmosphere of merriment all around.

With such understanding among the families every one shared the joys and sorrows of everyone else. So on that day, just in the afternoon of 10th of December, 1973, everyone was looking forward to welcome the marriage procession in the evening that was to come to claim the D.S.P's. daughter as the bride.

The road had been washed, the hedges on both sides of the road had been neatly trimmed, the decorators were putting up paper decorations and buntings, welcome-gates etc. A big shamiana was being put up at the back of the D.S.P's house to seat the guests and the bridegroom's party.  Electricians were on the job too. They had tastefully decorated the D.S.P's house with various coloured lights and made arrangements for the playing of popular cinema records. The sampling of these records was being heard since Eleven o' Clock.  The halwaies were also busy since the morning and aromas of various kinds of meat, vegetable and sweet preparations had started to infiltrate all the houses. Young girls and boys - local as well as guests from outside - were seen in their fineries, hurrying on chores or just gossiping.

 There was, however, one cloud hanging. The old mother of the immediate neighbour of the D.S.P., the Director of a Govt. Testing Laboratory, was very seriously ill. She had been admitted to the P.G.I., Chandigarh two days earlier. She was in the intensive care unit and sinking fast. There was an unasked question in the mind of everyone, whether she would last the day, and if the unfortunate thing happened, what would happen to the festivities.

Around 2 O' clock the news came that the Maker had called her to His abode. All the neighbours including the D.S.P., rushed to the P.G.I., and offered their condolences and services to the Director. People were now asking the question in whispers, "what effect it will have on the evening's celebration."

The Director took hold of his grief and announced to the gathered neighbours that the body would be taken immediately for cremation, straight from the P.G.I., so as not to disturb the marriage festivities and cast a spell of gloom. Ignoring some voices of protest from some of the friends, he said that he would not wait for relations from outside and in view of his "niece's marriage", he would be prepared to face their wrath. He did not budge from his resolve. The body was never brought home, it was taken direct to the cremation ground from the hospital. All the neighbours, relatives and friends who could  be informed on phone or otherwise, gathered at the crematorium. The D.S.P. also attended the cremation against the wishes of the relatives - specially the ladies. The funeral ceremonies were over before the sun set.

In the evening the bridegroom's party came, accompanied by musical band and playing "Bhangra" and was received in the gaily lit and decorated street. No outsider could even suspect a great tragedy had taken place a few hours ago in the very next house.

(Gratefully reproduced from "Glimpses of Greatness" by Dr. Gajindar Singh)


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